Survey shows 83 percent of Germans against selling weapons to Turkey

According to a recent poll conducted in Germany, 83 percent of Germans are against selling weapons to Turkey.

An online public survey conducted by public research institute YouGov about Germany’s controversial weapons exports shows that 80 percent of Germans think that “war zones should not be supplied with weapons,” while 64 percent of Germans say, “Germany should not aid in any other country’s armament.”

According to the results of the survey, one of the issues the German public objects to most is weapons sales to Turkey. Eighty-three percent of Germans want no weapons or military equipment to be sold to Turkey, despite the fact that the country is a NATO member.

The survey was conducted by YouGov between May 16-18 with the participation of 2,026 people.

Germany has sold over 1 billion euros worth of weapons to Saudi Arabia, which for the last three years has been waging a war against the Iran-backed Shia Houthis, who want to take control of Yemen.

After harsh criticism by the opposition, Germany’s weapons sales to Saudi Arabia were reduced to about 254 million euros. German pro-peace and anti-armament groups have been holding protests in front of German weapons giants Rheinmetal and Heckler&Koch’s factories due to the Leopard tanks being used in the Turkish military’s operation in Afrin.

Meanwhile, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu told a group of reporters late Tuesday that he believes in that the US administration will not block the delivery of Joint Strike Fighters, the F-35s, to Turkey despite some measures being discussed in the US Congress.

“I have no concerns because this is a substantial legal agreement that includes the joint production of some materials. We have made our payments regularly, and this deal has nothing to do with our procurement of the Russian S-400s,” he said.

Turkey is an important NATO member and wants to meet its need for weapons from its allies, Çavuşoğlu said, while urging allied countries not to create arbitrary blocks in these issues.

“If I need such weapons, I will certainly procure my immediate needs from somewhere. But I do not think there will be a problem. In many resolutions that stipulate sanctions, Congress leaves the last word to the administration,” he said.

The United States is scheduled to deliver the first of an order of F-35 advanced fighter jets to Turkey on June 21, but a bill making its way through Congress aims to block the sale.

US Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson said on Tuesday that strict US export controls may have led to Turkey’s purchase Russia’s S-400 air defence system, Turkey’s state-run Anadolu news agency reported.

The Turkish government’s move last December to purchase Russian S-400 missile defence systems, which some experts fear could threaten the interoperability of NATO’s integrated defence systems, has become a source of tension between Turkey and the US.

When asked if Turkey’s deal to buy missile defence systems from Russia was causing problems with NATO, Wilson said, “I don’t connect those problems directly with the NATO alliance.” Wilson instead hinted that Washington’s strict export controls could be behind Ankara’s decision to purchase the missiles from Russia, the agency said.

Noting that the US “needs to figure out how to be better allies,” Wilson said that at times US allies were forced “into a situation where they want to buy unmanned aircraft or even intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance aircraft that are built by China.”

Wilson pointed out that Turkey’s purchase of the S400 systems presented some operational problems that the departments of state and defense were discussing with Ankara, “particularly as it relates to the location of advanced aircraft in Turkey … like the F-35.”

Also on Tuesday, the US State Department said the US doesn’t have any agreements yet with Turkey on Manbij in northern Syria. “We don’t have any agreements yet with the government of Turkey. We announced previously that the US and the Turkish working group met…in Ankara [on May 25],” State Department Spokesperson Heather Nauert said during a press briefing.

“We’re continuing to have ongoing conversations regarding Syria and other issues of mutual concern. The two sides then had outlined the contours of a roadmap for further cooperation, and that includes on Manbij,” Nauert said.

US military support for the People’s Protection Units (YPG), which Ankara views as a terrorist group for its ties to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), has strained ties between the two NATO allies. There are roughly 2,000 US troops in Manbij.

Following a visit by former US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson to Ankara in February, Turkey and the US established a mechanism to address separate issues in working groups, including the stabilization of Manbij and to prevent any undesirable clashes. Nauert also said that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Turkish Foreign Minister Çavuşoğlu are set to meet in Washington on June 4.

The first meeting of the working group on Syria was held on March 8-9 in Washington. In January, Turkey launched Operation Olive Branch in Afrin, northern Syria, to clear the YPG from the area before it said it might also extend its operation further east to Manbij unless the YPG leaves the strategically located city.

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